Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
On today's Oprah Winfrey show, Winfrey hosts a gang of the original supermodels from the 80s and 90s—Christie Brinkley, Beverly Johnson, Stephanie Seymour, Cheryl Tiegs and more! They're calling it "The Ultimate Supermodel Reunion." And we're liveblogging it here beginning at 4 p.m. ET.
4:00 p.m.: Omg we're so excited, it's starting. Marriage, divorce, gaining weight, getting older—aaaaahhhh the teaser! Also, Veronica Webb, Paulina Porizkova, and Elle Macpherson in addition to the names listed above.
4:01: The four top billed models—Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs, Beverly Johnson, and Stephanie Seymour are posed behind a scrim, the scrim raises, hugs all around. Now they are doing retrospectives of each model's career.
4:02: All these women are in their late-50s except for Seymour, who is 42.
4:04: "How do you feel when you walk in a room?" asks Oprah. Brinkley says she's always convinced when people are looking at her, she's got toilet paper stuck to her, or her skirt tucked into her stockings—she says she's done this in Paris.
Johnson says: "I'm mad at them not looking. If I'm going out into public, I go out and I make myself public, otherwise I stay at home.
Seymour says: "Most of the time what I get is, 'You look just like Stephanie Seymour.'"
4:05: Oprah wants to have a real conversation about "This Beauty Thing." She says that normal women look at supermodels and wonder what it's like to have beauty as your calling card.
Tiegs says she disagrees: "We've all seen girls who have perfect features, and they've come and gone, and a year later none of us hear from them again."
Johnson says: "It's a lot of work. It's a lot of pressure also."
Brinkley says: "I never felt like I had that going for me, I always felt I had to bring something more. When I came on the scene, all the models were sophisticated and lean, and I was very athletic, which is what set me apart and what gave me a career."
Seymour says: "We all want to be better, we all want to be smarter, we all want to be more beautiful. We're all human."
4:07: Johnson says that being in business is hard: "I'm using my mind in a way that I've never used my mind before." Says she really makes an effort to prove that she's not just a dumb model.
4:12: Solo interview - Oprah focuses on Brinkley, who was discovered at age 18 while studying art in Paris. She was the face of Chanel perfume and Prell shampoo. Retrospective of magazine covers—more than 500! Now she's talking about her fourth divorce. Today, she's 57, still modeling, and an activist, businesswoman, and mother. "More captivating than ever."
How Brinkley was discovered: A man in Paris walks up to Brinkley and says: "I have been looking for you, I need you to come to my studio so I can take some pictures and show my clients." Brinkley was, like, "Yeah, right." Now they're showing the original test shots. Gorgeous.
Now Oprah is talking about Brinkley's problems: "I'm way too trusting," Brinkley says. "I think I would never rush into anything again." She says she doesn't think she would get married again. She says she still believes in true love.
4:15: Brinkley talks about her vegetarianism. Has been veg since the 60s, she's been vegan, been macrobiotic, been lacto-ichthyo, which she says works best for her. She attributes her looks to great genes and a great dermatologist.
Now we're going on a tour of her Hamptons house—century-old home. Two-story family room, an EIC with a fireplace, French doors leading to a terrace. The dining room is decorated with Brinkley's shell art. The 22 acre estate has a guest house, greenhouse, and her art studio. "I'm so inspired by nature," she says.
During the house shoot, Brinkley got a call saying that her mother has just suffered a heart attack. Thankfully, she is okay.
Brinkley is making her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago this year. Her father encouraged her to take the role. Now her father is very ill and has a hard time talking. "I really want to do this for my dad," she says. Brinkley gets choked up.
4:22: Elle Macpherson's career started with a bet at age 16—her girlfriend bet her $20 she wouldn't walk into an agency. At age 20, Time magazine labeled her "The Body." Record five times on the cover of SI. Today she's 47, mother of two boys, is the global spokesperson for Revlon.
"I'm more confident in the way I look today because I have access to better hair and makeup people," Macpherson says.
4:24: Now we're looking at a photo of Stephanie Seymour at age 12. Obviously, she's adorable. Seymour says she'd tell the 12 year old in the picture: "All your dreams came true."
"I completely worshipped Brooke Shields," Seymour says, "and I wanted to be Brooke Shields. My mother was an aspiring photographer, and I was the only who would sit still long enough for her to get things in focus."
She says she's kind of shy—she plays a character in the pictures. "You feel so silly when you have to jump and do all these things, but if you become someone else, it's okay."
She says it was bad to have that much power at a young age—"You're really a child with a lot of money and a lot of attention and you're flying all over the world," she says. "You just try to keep you feet on the ground."
Discussing the photos that surfaced of her embracing her son on the beach. She was upset because she heard about the photos because she had gained a lot of weight. (She lost it before the show.) "Since I hit 40, all of a sudden I'm 10 pounds heavier," she says, "One day my clothes fit, the next day I'm wearing my Pilates pants all day." She says her son was just trying to cheer her up and make her feel good. They had no idea that one second could be turned into something that could ever be turned into something inappropriate. "He's my baby," she says.
She was upset that her son responded to the press via Facebook without her knowledge.
"He took it upon himself and I think he felt that he had to defend his mommy," she says. Her youngest child is 6, her oldest child is 21. "I always wanted to be a mommy."
4:30: Now Oprah is talking about the divorce mess. "I had an epiphany," Seymour says, "One night about 24 hours before court, I went to my husband's house with a peace offering and we really hadn't been talking much." The peace offering was an Indian blanket that he really loved.
"I just said to him, you know, we both love our children too much to let this go on any further. And most of what's said in the press really is nonsense. And we just decided, then and there to reconcile and work things out between the two of us."
They still live in separate houses and go to therapy, they spend holidays and weekends together as a family. "We're in charge," she says, "and our children are so much happier."
4:35: Now Oprah's talking to Cheryl Tiegs and Beverly Johnson. Johnson, the first African-American model on the cover of Vogue.
"It's every model's dream to be on the cover of Vogue," Johnson says. It was the second-best moment of her life, she says, after giving birth to her daughter. Oprah talks about what it meant to her—it meant movement, possibility, and hope. Before that, she only had Essence, she said.
Tiegs says: "I'm just so proud of you for doing that. I remember that, it was a milestone. I think all of us have done something in our careers that, if we stopped working, we could just rest on our laurels." Now they're showing Tiegs' mesh swimsuit shot, right, from Time magazine. "It's just a simple shot, I guess you can sort of see through it," she says. "But compared to what goes on today, this is not racy."
Now we're looking at Time mag cover featuring Tiegs as "The All-American Model." At that time, Tiegs said, no one knew models' names.
"It made you a real person, and not just a stick-figure model," says Oprah.
"When it arrived on the stands, everyone became my friend in America," Tiegs says. "99.9% of them have been incredibly kind."
4:42: Now Paulina Porzikova retrospective—talking about her aging process. "Nothing ages as poorly as a beautiful woman's ego," she says. "Everytime a guy passes by me and I've made and effort and he doesn't take a second look, it hurts a little bit."
A mailman handed her a letter and asked her if she was aware that a "hot model" lived in her building. She felt hurt.
"You forget to remember that aging is privilege and not a birthright," Porizkova says.
4:43: Now back with Johnson and Tiegs. Johnson talking about how a younger man tried to pick her up on the golf course. "Why am I trying to keep this teenage body when I'm not a teenager," Johnson says. That was an Aha-moment for her.
At 25: "At that time, the careers were five or six years, and it was scary not knowing what you're going to after this—everyone's telling you that the new model is coming in and she's 17, I always felt like it was one of the things that made me grow up."
Tiegs: "I don't know if it's harder [now] or harder or worse, but when I did SI, it was the editor, photographer, and me and suitcase of bathing suits. Today, makeup artists have assistants, hairstylist has assistants, photographer has assistants, and they're filming it. So if it's better or worse? I don't know." Not sure if it's harder for supermodels to age. "My hips were that wide," she indicates a teeny distance. Then later on, she got up to 170 lbs. "I didn't feel good about myself, and that's when I learned about exercise and nutritious. But with age, my body filled out and became more womanly."
Johnson on going to a Ford Models reunion: "I think some of them took care of themselves too much," she didn't recognize a lot of them.
Oprah talks about how some people lose sight of what they look like.
"When you do that plastic surgery," Johnson says, "you're changing your face, you're not enhancing it, you're a different person. This reunion was like Tales from the Crypt."
4:52: Veronica Webb retrospective - How she knew she made it - "My mother called me from the grocery store, 'I'm looking at this cover of Elle, is it you?'" She was the first African-American model to land a major cosmetics campaign. Now Webb is talking about how she always struggled with her weight because she grew up eating a lot of deep-fried food. "When I was younger, it was hard to separate who I am from what I did."
4:53: Back with Johnson. She says her lowest weight ever was 103 lbs. she's 5'9". "It wasn't until my mom dragged me out of the bathtub and took me to a three-way mirror" that she realized her bones were sticking out. Everyone else told her she was gorgeous and "chiseled."
Brinkley says Eileen Ford told her to eat ONLY fish and water. "I'm starting to look like a model," she said after eating only fish and water.
Tiegs got sent home once for gaining weight. "I didn't cry in the studio, but I got home, went to the refrigerator, ate everything I could get my hands on, and then I went on a diet. I needed help with portion control."
Seymour says: "It's a completely different business now. You can walk in looking like, it doesn't even matter—they just retouch you and make you whatever they want you to be."
Johnson talking about how she was a victim of domestic violence. "You become so desensitized towards women being beaten and abused and murdered, everyone thinks it's okay, but it's not."
4:57: Back with all the models. Oprah is thanking them for being here. It's over. The end. Sigh, we could have watched them talk for hours.